The big winners at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on Russia were Democrats, who were on the offensive, while Republicans were left to deflect and offer a non-defense of Trump.
Video of Malcolm Nance explains why Democrats had a great day:
Nance said, “The Democrats were on the offensive today, and even though they knew a lot of their questions couldn’t be answered because they knew Director Comey would say no comment or just answer the questions the same way. They laid out sequentially the entire case of the Russian hacking, how it impacted the election, and they called it an attack on the United States, and that just left the Republicans to parry and constantly discuss the leaks, are the leaks illegal, and that looked really weak to me compared to the systematic laying out of all that circumstantial evidence and you people say it’s all smoke and no fire. Well, its smoke that kills you in a situation like that, and I felt that the evidence they were laying out was overwhelming and the large majority of it verified by Director Comey and Admiral Rogers as far they could in a non-classified setting.”
An easy way to tell that Democrats won is to take a look at the pushback from the White House. Trump was live tweeting rebuttals to the testimony, while Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to change history and rewrite the role of former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee spent the hearing trying to change the subject to anything other than Trump’s wiretap allegations and the Russian hacking. Republicans wanted to talk about the leaks. They did their best to get viewers to ignore the topic of the hearing, and instead, focus on how wrong it is for journalists to report leaked information. House Republicans were clinging to the White House talking points and trying to ride out the storm.
There are two big takeaways from the Comey hearing.
First, the Russia scandal is not going away. Republicans were unable to slow the momentum of scandal that looks like a freight train that’s heading straight for them. Secondly, Republicans have no defense for Trump. The only tactic that Republicans had at their disposal was to change the subject, which means that when it comes to Russia, Trump is on his own.
The hearing went as well for Democrats in a non-classified setting as they could have hoped for.
If Russia becomes a 2018 issue, Congressional Republicans are going to have a huge problem.